Writing

Plotting a New Story

By April 18, 2016 24 Comments
Millie Ho Plotting New Story John Woo

Back to basics.

Sometimes things don’t work out and maybe, just maybe, you’re better off because of it.

In my case, I’ve been thinking about why my Long-Suffering Manuscript was long-suffering. Maybe it’s not the right time for me to write a YA sci-fi/neo-noir trilogy. Maybe the original concept has been too muddled by the inclusion of Plot Trope X or Character Type Y, things I added purely because I believed they were key ingredients in a good book (spoiler: lies, all lies!).

And maybe—and this is the biggest fallacy, I think—I thought I needed to stick with the story because I had spent so much time working on it.

But it ultimately doesn’t matter what the reasons are. What matters now is what you learned. And what I learned is that there are more pressing issues, stuff that scares me to write about, for example, that I need to get out of my system first.

And Thus, I’m Plotting a New Story

This morning, I finished an outline for a new story. I plotted it using this method I learned largely from trial and error, and there’s around 28 chapters so far.

It’s a YA neo-noir/supernatural(?) with some dark comedy thrown in. There’s a girl, stolen mob money, and a whole lot of inner and literal demons. This story is more true to who I am, and hopefully that will come through once I start writing it.

I gave myself a week to plot it so as to not overthink the story too much. The completed outline is messy and riddled with lots of ‘ADD THIS’ or ‘EDIT THIS’ annotations, but it’s solid enough to build upon. The key now is to write continuously, without stopping, until I get to the end, and go from there.

I aim to complete this new story according to my original deadlines.

As always, I’ll keep you updated.

—–

Millie’s Note: What is your experience with putting work on hiatus?

Join the discussion 24 Comments

  • aetherhouse says:

    Sometimes it gets to that point. It’s so hard letting something go that we’ve worked on for YEARS. Especially something that feels like it ought to be near the finish line. But sometimes shelving a project is necessary. I actually shelved The Shadow of Saturn back in 2012 after writing 50,000 words of it. It just wasn’t time. And you know what? I’m so glad that I let it stew for awhile, because having some distance from the project allowed me to grow and realize themes in that book that I didn’t recognize before. Originally I was just writing it as a memoir. Now, having been out in the real world for three years, I realize that it’s actually a commentary on how Millenials approach their careers and how we, as a generation, were raised to both be dreamers and to be exploited by “work culture.” Putting a bit of age and wisdom on my bones has made my novel more wise itself.

    Timing is important, and perhaps you and Nash Moor need to say “See you later.” Not goodbye, but a cooling off period. Plus, it never hurts to look at something with new eyes. One of the reasons I picked up TSoS again was because I rediscovered my rough draft two years later and thought “hey, this isn’t bad!”

    • Millie Ho says:

      When it comes to shelving projects, how much of the decision is made based on gut reaction? It seems like the best decisions are made based on instinct. Comes from the same school of thought as trying not to overthink it and just go do it. It must be interesting to be able to look back on a memoir and see a main theme solidify. I’d be interested in reading The Shadow of Saturn since I can relate to that duality, and because I’m curious to learn about your experiences during that time.

      Looking at Nash Moor in hindsight, I think I was trying to please other people. The story started in a creative thesis class, was encouraged by teachers, and perhaps I wanted to make good on their expectations that it would turn into a book. More and more, I’m learning that you shouldn’t write things because people more learned and experienced said you should. Just write what makes sense and feels right.

      • aetherhouse says:

        I would say that I don’t overthink shelving things. It is usually very sudden, actually. One day you wake up and look at it and don’t know why you’re working on it anymore. Case in point, I shelved a project yesterday! I had been editing a webseries for about six months (Dead Air). But I saw it on my schedule and thought, “this doesn’t fit with my brand.” It isn’t filmed in HD. It’s a bit silly. I don’t think it should be something that should be the face of my business. I considered launching it separately – just as me, not connected to Aether Motion – but I wondered what the point would be.

        I will need a beta for sure, and you were an excellent beta for Paradisa. I’m sure I’ll be hitting you up eventually 🙂

        Oooh….that explains a lot, actually. There was one piece of literary fiction I wrote for a class that was the most pretentious overwritten garbage I’ve ever spit out, but the teacher LOVED it. So yeah, we can’t write on the whims of other people. What they like can be completely inconsistent with what they want. I learned that in my various beta rounds as well. Good betas understand what you’re trying to do and want to help clarify/shape your vision. A poor beta wants the story to be something completely different, they way THEY would have written it.

  • writingbolt says:

    If you follow the guidelines of others, you don’t necessarily garner the same success. Maybe you bombarded yourself with too many “tips” or chased too many trendy tidbits. MMMaybe, while you were learning the ropes yourself, you tried to sound like a writing expert in videos, too…..just sayinnn.

    If you write with a deadline always in mind, how can you be sure your little seed will fully bloom? Schools give deadlines for homework. But, not every paper you write in English class is going to be as good as it could be if you gave it the time to mature.

    As it stands, I’ve been completing one book per year, roughly, not following any latest gossip or trend or whatnot. And, while I may finish the book in a coarse form, I still find myself going back to hone my previous work, especially when I find aspects in the “sequel” that impact the original/previous. I am not rushing to publish.

    Kinda like Orson Wells said about wine, I will publish when the books are “ripe.” When it’s time. If your income depends upon a writing deadline…don’t expect much in terms of creativity. You’re turning in homework.

    As for shelving a book project, I’ve been doing that pretty much since 2005. And, some stick in my craw, really making me wish I could finish them and make them shine. As Aetherhouse said–cool name, by the way–sometimes setting one project aside gives you time to expand your mind or explore other options which may inspire you to go back and add something to or even complete a previous project.

    The fact that you say your new project sounds a lot like the previous isn’t saying much about trying a new direction. You may find a way. But, sometimes, it helps to try something more different to loosen the gears you need to make a breakthrough with what hit a wall. When writing a mystery goes nowhere, I try romance or fantasy. When a novel seems an uphill battle, I try a few short stories that may fit into a good collection (not a random mix nor singular topic like I see in some book reviews). [I hear travel helps give the mind new perspectives, too.]

    And, if your brain is tuning into too many “How to Finish a Book” sort of postings/vlogs/etc, tune out. Get some fresh air. Sunshine does wonders for my creativity. In fact, it is helping my brain come online as we speak….bzzzt.

    • Millie Ho says:

      You must’ve misread my post and my recent posts up to this point. I’m moving away from the guidelines of others. The goals and deadlines are what works best for me, determined through a lot of trial and error since I started writing. And if you think I shouldn’t share tips and tricks I learned if I’m not published/an expert, I’d be missing out on an opportunity to help someone else who may benefit from what I learned. That’s how we learn as writers. We look at what worked for others, summarize what didn’t work, and move on from there. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way. It’s up to the writer to determine for him/herself what makes the most sense for their writing and lifestyle.

      Thanks for your suggestions about finding a new direction. Re: similarity of the two projects, my old project moved too far from the noir/mystery genre the more I wrote it, and the new project is an attempt to get back to what feels right, which is in the same neo-noir genre, but with less embellishments. Good to see that you can juggle multiple genres like romance or fantasy. I tried writing a couple of stories for classes back in the day, but they didn’t feel as right as writing crime/mystery. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t read much romance or fantasy. I agree with you that we should be able to switch it up. Walking around is a top creativity sparker for me as well.

      Re: deadlines, I read somewhere that if you write only when you’re inspired, then you’ll never get done. Deadlines for a draft are just that—deadlines for drafts. You can set another deadline for the next draft and improve from the first deadline. In my case, this is how the little seed blooms. Are you gearing to self-publish or going the traditional route? Are you still working on work you set aside 3, 5, 7 years ago, etc?

      I think it’s good to learn from the experts when it comes to “How to Finish a Book” type articles. For example, Chuck Wendig and Brandon Sanderson write insightful blogs that document their writing process and share tips. If writers don’t toot their own horn, no one will.

      • writingbolt says:

        Of course…I misread…I misread everything. That must be it.

        Actually, I HAVE only glanced at a number of your recent postings, including numerous videos in which you attempt to explain the writing process in various stages.

        I knew you would say that about goals/deadlines. I keep pushing that line and keep getting the same response from others. Which is why I should have said, “Do whatever works for you.” That’s innocent enough for everyone.

        Trial and error does have its merits.

        Sharing tips isn’t necessarily bad, but it seems odd or even silly if there’s no proof it achieves anything. It’s one thing to share ideas/tips with someone in a work space you share. IE You attend an art class and figure out how to color a picture by mixing inks. The person next to you says, “Oh! How did you do that?” And, you share this info with them fresh from the experience. But, while I can tell you what worked for me and my personal writing projects, I cannot assert it will work for you. Nor can I say it’s the path to success. I guess, you just came off as a sort of know-it-all in your videos. And, it rubbed me the wrong way.

        [But, I still have a soft spot for you because you are beautiful, articulate and motivated.]

        In short, I also have a problem with so many pitching themselves as “experts” and publishing “bestsellers” crammed with their swift advice. Too many experts out there. Not enough friends working together to find what works.

        What sort of “embellishments” spoiled your first/previous project?

        Maybe doing the same genre wouldn’t seem as pointless if you didn’t label it as such. I guess, when you said you were starting a new piece under the same genre label, it sounded like a futile exercise. But, after I commented, I figured maybe it’s just what some of us do when we know what we want and like. I could categorize most of my writing as comical fantasy with a splash of erotica/romance. But, if I tell myself I am writing under those labels, it suffocates me a bit. So, I just write the stories that work/feel right and label them–if necessary–later. That way I am not filling a box. I am building something unique and then, maybe, making a box for it.

        I don’t read much, period. My writing ability stems from countless hours of television/movies. 🙂 I think of them as books on tape. I am inspired by what I see…and some by what I experience. My first successfully written book stems from a trip I took overseas. I “wrote what I knew” and then gave it an imaginative twist. Surprisingly, that first book opened a number of doors to others like it. The ideas keep coming.

        What mystery/crime stories do you read?

        Shall we go for walks together? 🙂

        Ah, but, see, you read that somewhere. That bit about deadlines and writing when inspired. Artists will say the same when thinking about making money. If we create to make money, are we giving the work from our hearts our best effort? Or, are we milking ourselves until we’re put out to pasture for the amusement of others? The publisher is one end of the creative process. But, before we face those Sith lords, we have ourselves to contend with and, hopefully, the freedom to make our babies grow as we like (not how others aim to shape them for their own gains).

        I finished my first book by starting with something I knew/experienced and determination to pound every free minute I had into it. Had I set a deadline for myself, it would have felt like homework. School used to give me panic attacks. I do not want to go down that road, again. So, deadlines are like sticking a dagger in myself. I prefer to trust in a higher power’s guidance. I will finish if it is the right thing to do. I will finish when the book’s time has come. I will publish when the time is right.

        Inspiration is not something we can expect to run on a clock. Even the transportation we rely upon does not always heed our call. Inspiration is a gift from above. It comes when it will. Feed it. Respect it. Take care of the vessel that receives it. And, you may be blessed with some/more.

        I am not sure which way I will publish. But, self-publishing seems the least stressful. The “traditional” way is said to be more profitable. But, I take Salinger’s experience to heart. If it robs my soul, gives me a headache or twists my work into something I did not intend, I will raise a holy war.

        Yes. I have a project I started back in 1994 that has yet to be completed. It remains a very choppy mini-series with film aspirations. Almost every year, I find myself dwelling upon it and how to improve it. Every few years, new technology appears which either confirms or upsets my predictions written back then. If my “future” no longer works, it sounds silly. That’s just one reason why it remains unfinished. Writing futuristic stories gives writers a freedom to evade historical accuracy…until the setting becomes the present and the author looks silly for miscalculating.

        I also have “seeds” I started writing around 2005 which I occasionally go back to and re-evaluate. I have about a dozen novels I want to write but keep hitting snags. I get this feeling I’d do better with a partner or two who could bounce ideas around with me, making sure everything works/makes sense, etc.

        Well, I disagree. I don’t think any human is an expert at anything. We are all eternal students honing our crafts. I think of all the Asian stories about swords. Just when you think you have the most powerful sword that can cut through ten bodies, someone creates one that can cut through eleven. There is no peak to our understanding of what is. The “higher power” keeps us guessing and learning. Yet, some get it in their heads that they can learn no more and have the right to direct others.

        I prefer to be received as a good toot than intentionally toot. The latter seems to smell of arrogance and leaves a bad taste in my mouth when others look at me like a know-it-all/windbag. If my input is helpful, it will help those it can. But, an online or library search for such teamwork seems like finding a needle in the desert.

        I would never know which “expert” author to follow. Too many think they have the stuff. And, I don’t have the time or energy to try them all. So, who do we follow? The one(s) we meet in person and feel good about in our hearts are probably a good start. Trusting stars, LIKEs, views or reputations is foolish.

  • kvennarad says:

    PS. I have to say that I now have the manuscript for ‘KWIREBOY vs VAMPIRE’ back from the editor, so I’m going to have to go through that very soon if I really want it to be published this year! So that’s something productive I’ll be doing during my hiatus.

  • NOOOOOO!

    Wait, let me clarify that reaction: I think it’s great that you’re starting a new work! It’s awesome that you’ve reached a point where you know what you need to write. I’m very, very happy for you.

    BUT! I was looking forward to you being finished soon and me finally getting to read your stuff hahahaha.

    Aww, oh well. It sounds like you’ve got all the right reasons for starting a new project and shelving your first attempt, and hey – doing so has often signaled the start of a writer’s success: can’t remember if you were a fan, but Jim Butcher shelved his first three-or-so epic fantasy books (something like 300,000 words) to write the first Dresden Files book. Now he’s rolling in the megabucks, so…

    For me, I’ve put my (to use a phrase I’ve heard a lot from you) “long-suffering manuscript” on hold several times, having started back in 2004… *hides face in shame*

    There are reasons I’m sure that it needs finishing (even if only my mum reads it) and they are:
    – I’ve found a theme that’s close to my heart, and the whole story is wrapped around that
    – The characters are people that I feel like I know better, and love more, every time I write for them
    – The story feels like it’s coming together with each re-write, getting stronger, and the muddle of threads is clearing gradually…

    TL:DR – Hurray for you starting something new, and I can’t wait to read it! 🙂 Go Millie Go!

    • Millie Ho says:

      Ah, those are great reasons for finishing the manuscript. Having themes and characters that resonate with you are definitely priority items. I think it goes back to the old adage “know thyself”. Sometimes we don’t have a clear idea of our values before we start writing, and that’s fine.

      I know I mistakenly thought I needed to write for an audience first and then myself second, when it should’ve been the other way around. As long as you know what you’re all about and what you’re trying to say after a few drafts and rewrites (that’s when I reached these ‘epiphanies’), that’s when things fall into place and the story starts to solidify.

      Thanks for your support, and for sharing that Jim Butcher anecdote. I just read his Wikipedia page and his path to being published is really inspiring. I’ve written 5,000 words of this new story so far, and I ain’t deleting anything or overthinking it this time. Basically, I’m just gonna wordvomit on the page and do the necessary cleanup later. Expect the draft sometime in mid-summer, and I hope we can do a trade, because I want to read your draft as well! 😀

  • Millie Ho says:

    The Sharpness of Death sounds like something totally up my alley. I haven’t read any of your adult fiction, so I’d be interested in giving that a go if you ever decide to return to it. Going off of the list of WIP projects, it seems like you’re into reinventing or remixing ideas and stories. I bet you’re good at pastiches!

    Re: becoming a YA author accidentally, it seems like writing what you want to write is more important than writing what you’re good at writing. The holy grail is being good at writing what you want (and being paid to do it!), so I wonder if you would eventually move away from YA if you’re not 100% feeling it. It reminds me of how I thought I had to write a book in a hardboiled style because that got the most enthusiastic response from teachers. I liked writing in that style, but is that feeling authentic or manufactured, something I felt I had to embrace because of external pressures? I think these are the questions that can only be answered over time, with each new work you produce.

    Thanks for sharing your process and experience with being on hiatus. Do you think those kind of requests are overall more detrimental than helpful? I’m enjoying the poetry you’re producing as a result, but wonder if you could get rid of these contradictory feelings by saying no or by sticking to your original plan and taking a complete break. Then again, it depends on your end goal and the scope of the opportunity.

    Given that your writing/ideation process is so different from mine, it would be great to get your feedback on this new story and see what works/what doesn’t work. I might give the Long-Suffering Manuscript a polish and send it off to my original beta readers, but only after this new story is finished. Still sticking to my original deadline of Aug 1 (or sooner, seeing as progress has been great lately), so expect that around then. Here’s hoping this new story will be more enjoyable to read than the other one, a win-win for both reader and writer.

    P. S.: Great advice, and something I’m applying more and more. 🙂

    P. P. S.: I like that you wrote a book to prove a point. Mission accomplished, indeed!

    • kvennarad says:

      Well actually, most of my fiction (if you consider that I’m best-known in Scotland as a short-story writer) has been adult rather than YA. My one published adult novel was my first – ‘Lupa’. Having said that, it was pretty quirky, but then most of my writing is that. As for pastiches – oh yes! I have been doing pastiches since heaven-knows when. I’ll send you an email with some links in, as Warpdress doesn’t like people putting links in comments.

      I would love to give feedback on the new story, by the way.

  • Steve Myers says:

    Hiatus? Absolutely necessary at unpredictable points along the way, sometimes for 3 hours, other times 3 days or weeks, even years. I think so anyway.

  • writingbolt says:

    Kvennarad, it sounds like writing what you truly want scares you a bit while writing what a publisher asks–this YA stuff–comes easy for you, perhaps as it did in school. Why write what is easy but not pleasing to you just to profit? I would not feel good about making money from work that rubs me the wrong way spiritually.

    Your “Sharpness of Death” sounds good from the description…not from the title (which touches on personal phobia).

    Would you say you spend more time/energy writing pieces inspired by other works/authors or writing your own creations?

    We seem to have similar “seed” writing processes. 🙂

    So, you relate writing to sex…huh…and a gender struggle even you do not win.

    Pressure to write is not good for the creative mind, in general. Occasionally, it bears fruit. But, I am getting this ongoing feeling that our fruits of inspiration are gifts from above. Some improve lives. Others mess with heads. Many can and will be source of debate.

    I gave poetry a run for the money in my late teens. I hated how corny mine sounded; so I gave it up. But, I still will write the occasional limerick. In fact, I am aspiring to complete a book of thematic limericks…one of these days. 😀 I have an old one that garnered some attention in high school. I am thinking of retooling it.

    Are you–like me–going mad from all of the bloggers pitching create-every-day campaigns? What is it that compels us to compete with the marathon runners?

    Now that you mention Picasso… Isn’t it funny how an artist can draw a doodle, forget about it and not be around when someone sells it for a ton of cash? I can either go mad from that or laugh and let it go. If we all could get past this economy/materialism business… On that note, I need to read the latest work of Shirley MacLaine.

    • kvennarad says:

      I hope Millie doesn’t mind our having this conversation here.

      Hmmm. Well, I don’t NOT enjoy writing, if you take my double negative there. I have to say that my first YA novel, and my first two teen-vampire novel (watch out for the second – it’s out this year, hopefully) were actually great fun to write. If I analyse my overall corpus, I would say that I write for myself most of all, and ‘what other people want’ a lot, but not most of all. It’s just that I don’t particularly fancy writing any more YA stuff right now unless I have to – which is basically if I get some decent ideas for my vampire threequel. I didn’t exactly HAVE to write the sequel – the original teen-vamp novel was done in response to a casual request from my publisher – I have no idea whether she expected my to respond – and the sequel was written because I had a load of ideas left. The threequel is, I guess, where the real pressure is, and I’m afraid I baulk at it.

      As regards my first YA/older children novel, ‘The Everywhen Angels’, again if I hadn’t wanted to write it and hadn’t had some ideas for it, I might not have risen to the challenge to out-write JKR.

      As for the short stories I’m best known for in Scotland, many of them were written for an annual competition in a Literary festival. Every year they have a competition for stories of the supernatural or macabre. The only parameters are the story length and that it has some definite connection with Scotland. The stories are judged anonymously, and I just keep on winning; they pick eight stories overall to be read out by professional actors. Despite the parameters that leaves a lot for individual creativity and imagination. So far my stories which the evening audience have heard have included – an old man in the 1960s, sitting by the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, casts his mind back to a strange, red-haired lover; Roman soldiers on the Empire’s northernmost frontier are terrorised by an unknown power on the longest night of the year; a young student loses the love of his life during a magic show; two people are sitting in a railway station at dead of night, but which one is the haunter and which the haunted?; a cottage on Shetland has been built from the stones of an evil old house, and is possessed by a ‘trow’ (a Shetlandic troll); an Australian academic on top of a Scottish mountain, investigates ‘random voice phenomena’; a young woman, in 1919, the adopted ‘niece’ of M R James, has nightmares about the murder of a Danish sailor. The rest of my stories are just stuff out of my own head, some of which owe a lot to other writers, most don’t. Often, however, they ARE inspired by a view, a piece of music, a painting.

      My poetry is about 99% my own, though again I have written in other poets’ styles as a lark or as an exercise in poetic composition.

      To sum up, I don’t think that anything anyone writes can be divorced from the culture in which they live, and the influences which that culture exerts. My own cultural surround is eclectic. However, having acknowledged that, no, writing what I want doesn’t scare me. When I have a writing hiatus it is usually because I genuinely need to stop and recharge, or because the down-side of bipolar has caught me.

      The notion of ‘relating writing to sex’ is a topic which has been the subject of much academic discussion, and is not something I invented. The conventional story trajectory, careering towards a climax and then lying spent… male? Well, hell! 😀

      It was a structure that was challenged by modernist writers in the early 20c, notably Virginia Woolf, and continuing to challenge it is still a feminist issue.

      Lastly, yes, the create-every-day mongers drive me barmy. I used to write a poem every day for a good few years, but that was my own business, not anyone else’s.

      • writingbolt says:

        On that note, feel free to continue this discussion in my Chat Cafe space. That’s why I set that up…to spare posts from lengthy discussions crowding the comment space.

        But, I will now reply to your latest reply in short…or, as short as I can be.

        You are a published author and use lazy English like double negatives and ending sentences with prepositions? 😛

        Ugh, teen vampire novels… I retire the set of plastic fangs I never bought and spend the rest of my day clearing my orifices.

        Do NOT make another trilogy. There are too many, already. Shoot for 4 or 5 books in the series to be remotely unique. Or, don’t shoot for three if you have nothing to add after all those extra ideas spilled from book one into book two. Maybe book three needs time to stew…or more input from fans who want…well, more of the same, I guess.

        Why and how would you out-write JKR?…who is technically JR with a fake K thrown into her name for someone’s amusement. Who could every determine such a title of achievement? Maybe she made a typo somewhere and you manage to write a book without a single one? Is that perfection? It sounds like a contest you’d never win. Fans will always take sides.

        How boring and patriotic to limit a writing contest to stories tied to Scotland. If I spent all my time on Scotland, I’d have no way of indulging my interests in other cultures. But, that is kinda cool, having such an annual contest to spur imagination…in a limited capacity.

        You could have just sent an email detailing your various short stories, oh anonymous one. 🙂

        Ah, another bipolar writer. They seem to be cropping up lately.

        I think stories and sex have been a topic of Amy Schumer and countless other standup comics before her rising star took flight. 😛

        Careering or careening toward climax?

        Heck back at ya.

        If I did anything creative every day, I’d probably puke before I felt proud of anything. I’d feel like a cow one foot from the glue factory, waiting for the red light to flash.

        • kvennarad says:

          Nope, the gauntlet has been thrown down here, so here it’ll stay.

          1) “lazy English like double negatives and ending sentences with prepositions”
          Firstly, it’s about time you learned the difference between double negatives used as intensifiers (e.g. “I can’t get no satisfaction”), which is actually acceptable usage in many vernaculars, and a double negative used to negate a previous negative. As any linguist will tell you, vernaculars are not ‘lazy English’, but rather they are the linguistic currency of specific ethnic or societal groups and, as such, good communication. My ‘double negative’ was of the latter kind, however, negating a negative used by you.
          Secondly, this business about prepositions at the end of phrases is a total shibboleth. The ‘rule’ about not doing it was an arbitrary one, imposed by classically-educated gentlemen around the end of the 18c / beginning of the 19c, and was based on Latin grammar. Up till then, Latin had very little direct bearing on English grammar or usage – prepositions had been placed at the end of phrases before then, and continued to be afterwards. I put ’em there, I’m content to put ’em there, and I’ll continue to put ’em there come hell or high water, safe in the knowledge that those erudite Georgian gentlemen are resting in their erudite. graves.
          Take me on at English and you’ll lose.

          2) “How boring and patriotic to limit a writing contest to stories tied to Scotland.”
          How boring and silly to limit any competition to one thing. Why on earth should the men’s 400m race at the Olympic games not include running round the other way, or stopping after 100m, or standing still and playing the trombone.

          3) “Careering or careening?”
          Careering. It means rolling along out of control. ‘Careening’ on the other hand refers to taking a sea-going vessel out of water and scraping its hull. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

          4) “Why and how would you out-write JKR?”
          I don’t think you’ve been listening. Reading, rather. So never mind.

          • kvennarad says:

            PS. If you spot the extra full-stop (‘period’) (no prizes, by the way) in the above, it’s only there because I was practising morse code with the other hand.

          • writingbolt says:

            Soooo, in short, you are saying you are a wild and free American who will abuse English as she pleases, casting all the rules I was taught in school aside. [I don’t care what you say about the double negatives. I don’t care if you’re a Lopez or a Beyonce. They are just wrong. :)]

            On number two…uuuh, okay. Sorry I said anything! 😛

            I guess I’ve never heard “careering” used in regards to rolling. No, I trust you on “careening.” I was just checking. 🙂

            No, I read about you being challenged to out-write JR (as I shall call her). I am just not sure what sense it makes to think one must or can. If I say I can out-write Shakespeare, am I really going to try and write in his backwards, over-metaphor-ed style or think my own way of writing is better?

            M’lady, you do throw a fierce gauntlet. I shall see you at twenty paces when the clock strikes twelve. Bring a pillow.

          • kvennarad says:

            No, I’m a Scot, and like I said, the ‘rules’ you learned at school were totally arbitrary. They simply are – see my account above. Deal with that, it’s the truth, it’s the history of what was done by a bunch of Latinate snobs to a living language. They did it irrespective of actual usage. What – you think I’m making this up? No, I have bothered to study the history of the language I have been speaking for nearly six decades.

            And STILL you don’t get it about the double(d) negative I was using! Let me put it as simply as I can, then: ‘Wrong’ my foot! You haven’t even bothered to make an effort to read what I have been saying, so this discussion is closed.

            You haven’t even bothered to read what I said about out-writing JKR? Where did I say I had written in her style? Nowhere. So your point about writing in Shakespeare’s style is redundant. THIS discussion is also closed.

            Tell you what… Hey Millie, strike all this out, please, starting with my top comment. Let’s bury this guff.

          • writingbolt says:

            What’s the sense of teaching proper writing in school if the rules are pointless?

            Talk about a run-on sentence. Shouldn’t you be using semi-colons instead of commas when clumping three little sentences together?

            I will have to look it up, but I did not think Latinate was even a word.

            Yes, I am inclined to think you are saying some of these things just to excuse your casual use of the English language. If English is to be accepted in such a sloppy, anything-goes state, what good are any of us doing when trying to learn other languages? No one can properly learn a language when the rules are always changing.

            “Well, I know I taught you how to put adjectives after nouns in Spanish, but Jose over here puts them before the nouns like English-speaking folks. Deal with it.”

            Six decades?? You are that much older than me and sound like a bratty child with an inflated vocabulary she acquired from her mommy and daddy giving her a dictionary instead of a young-adult fiction series for her 7th birthday?

            Really? We’re going to do the “I had the last word, infinity plus one” game little kids play? What’s next? You’re going to hold your breath longer than me?

  • “What matters now is what you learned.”
    So true. Many writers are caught up on the final product, on publishing, but don’t think of what it takes to become better writers. I find that focusing on becoming a better writer takes a lot of the stress out.

    On putting work on hiatus:
    I do it all the time. I get mired in the details and at some point the whole is lost. I’m either bored or confused, so that’s when it’s time to put it away and wait. Not everyone has this luxury. I consider myself lucky to be able to put things away, to detach myself for a while and maybe forever. Really, the world will not come crashing down if I don’t finish x.

    • Millie Ho says:

      Great point about focusing on being a better writer. In the context of a hiatus, this could mean working on something else, or catching up on some reading, etc, anything to take your mind off the thing you’re trying to distance yourself from. Sometimes you’re working on the work in the back of your mind, often without conscious thought. In this way, a hiatus is only a hiatus from a specific project, not a hiatus from writing/reading altogether.

      And yeah, the world will not be sucked into oblivion if some manuscript wasn’t completed. I just have self-sabotage tendencies and tighter deadlines seem to help with that. But whatever works for you will work for you. It’s a process!

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